The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pain a l'Ancienne Hydration & Mini-Baguette Photos

Obsessive Ingredient Weigher's picture
Obsessive Ingre...

Pain a l'Ancienne Hydration & Mini-Baguette Photos

I've been making Gosselin/Reinhart's pain a l'ancienne since last fall, and until a few days ago, I was having a big problem scoring it consistently.  My breakthrough?  I stumbled upon Gosselin's website and saw them scoring loaves that were MUCH less hydrated than Reinhart's recipe was leading me to create.  Oh, Peter Reinhart!  So I cut back on the water, and voila, the lame scores it perfectly (forgive the shallow angle of the scoring, but it's a mini-baguette).  So right now I'm going with this formula: 128g KA French Style Flour, 2.65g salt, 0.95g instant yeast, and 92g water.  I might cut back on the water by a couple of grams - to 89g or 90g; time will tell.

I've been making single loaves about 5 days a week for the last couple months; they make a great lunch with some butter and confiture.  This loaf baked SO nicely.  I noticed subtle hints of pistachio and framboise as I gave a quick sniff while it cooled on the counter.

PHOTO #1: Sliced/Crumb Shot

PHOTO #2: Grigne

PHOTO #3: Mini-Baguette



ehanner's picture

Very nice indeed!

Notice at 28 seconds on the video how golden the color is. The bread dough in the video is indeed a lower hydration than the on you have been making. It's a different bread and isn't usually slashed.


avatrx1's picture

Often when I see these photos, I'd like to try the recipes, but I never know where to find them or in what book they originated.  Yours look wonderful.  I've tried making baguettes and they just don't come out right.  They're either too small, too hard or something.  Consequently I am always looking for a new method.

I always seem to be using a high hydration method which causes them not to shape properly and as for scoring?  the only method I can find is to use a sharp kitchen scissors and make little cuts across.  which - by the way - does work :-)


I have the measurements you used, but not the method.  any info you'd care to share would be great!  thanks -


Obsessive Ingredient Weigher's picture
Obsessive Ingre...

I agree, scissors work great with the high hydration.  With this less hydrated version, here's what I do.  btw - I get very into detailed method ;) . . .

1. Chill your stand mixer bowl and paddle atchment in the freezer.  Also chill a measuring cup (for later use in measuring your water) and a lightly oiled medium-sized glass [or metal] mixing bowl in the fridge.

2. Measure out 128g of KA French-Style flour (this is for a mini-baguette, so you can double it for a normal baguette or two minis) into the chilled stand mixer bowl.  Add 2.65g salt and 0.95g yeast.

3. Mix the dry ingredients with the paddle attachment (if you make more than this mini-baguette quantity, you might want to swtich to the dough hook attachment once this initial mix is done) for a few seconds to distribute them a bit, then pour in 90g of cold water and mix for about 1 minute, until the all the dry ingredients are moistened.

4. Turn the mixer up to medium speed (I set it at 4 on my KitchenAid) and mix for 6-7 minutes, until you get a nice "windowpane" effect with the dough.  I scrape off my paddle 2 or 3 times during those 6-7 minutes.  And when I made this loaf yesterday, I added an extra 2 grams of water in the last minute or so of mixing.

5. Scrape the dough out into the chilled/oiled bowl you have in the fridge, spray it lightly with oil, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days.

6. When you're ready to get started, take the chilled dough out of the fridge and put a small pin prick in the plastic wrap (this keeps the plastic wrap from swelling as the dough rises - which is not good, cause the pressure that it causes inhibits air pocket formation in the dough).  I leave my dough out for 3 - 3 1/2 hours at between 72 and 74 degrees.

7. 75-90 minutes before you bake the dough, set the oven to 500 degrees.  Have a baking stone on the middle rack and have a pan (which will hold your steaming water during the baking) in the oven, too.

8. Once the dough has doubled or so (if you use a glass bowl to hold the dough, you should notice plenty of air bubbles have formed - some small, some the width of pencil eraser, but many in between those sizes), gently scrape it out with a flexible mixing bowl spatula into the middle of some heavily floured parchment (the piece of parchment should be roughly square).  Ideally, you scrape it out so that it pours into itself -- meaning that the last bit that comes out of the bowl pours into the center on what first hit the parchment.  The shape sould be oval/oblong.  It'll be about 6 inches long.

9. Quickly dust the dough liberally with flour. Grab each side of the parchment and rock the dough back in forth in it, like a cradle, to help shape and slightly elongate the dough.  Then take a pastry brush and wipe away the excess flour.

10. Then very carefully pick the dough up, with each hand about 1/3 of the way from either end, allowing an inch or two of it at a time to then droop over the ends of your hands.  The idea is to let gravity elongate it a bit more, evenly along the full length of the dough; you really shouldn't have to pull or press to get it to around 12 inches.

11. Place a piece of parchment (an inch or two longer and wider than your dough) onto your peel and dust it lightly with semolina.  Then transfer your dough to that parchment and wipe away the excess semolina.

12. Score it with a lame, which should cut through with a moderate amount of pull on the dough its dragging through.  After all, the dough is still pretty wet, so it's not going to go through perfectly.

13. Have a spray bottle full of water and 1 1/4 cups of hot water ready, before you put the bread in the oven.  Then quickly open the oven, pour all the water into the pan you have in there, slide the dough onto the stone, and spray the walls of the oven with water.  Close the door, set your timer for 24 minutes.

14. In the first couple minutes, open the door 3 more times at 30 second intervals to spray the walls with water.  After the final spray, set your oven temp down to 475.

15. Check on the loaf after about 20 minutes; it might be done, depending on your oven.  But it tends to take 23-24 minutes for me.

16. Then take the loaf out, let it cool for 60-90 minutes, and eat it all in one sitting.


avatrx1's picture

Detail!  I love details!

Thanks, I'm going to give this a try this coming week once the temperature outside drops.  It's supposed to be almost 100 here today in Northern Illinois and the hubby would have a fit if I turned on the oven.


rayel's picture

Great crumb shot. It looks beautiful. The cut slice looks like a laser did it. I can see you are a fastidious baker. (I know I am stating the obvious)

Thanks for the great info and photos. Ray

Obsessive Ingredient Weigher's picture
Obsessive Ingre...

Thanks, Ray.  But I can only wish that an actual laser bread knife comes on the market.  Maybe one day!